The UN peacekeeping mission in Lebanon (UNIFIL) said Friday it had rescued 36 unarmed civilian fishermen who were about to set sail from an area near the Bekaa Valley — one of five areas in northern Lebanon where militiamen have been engaging with protesters over the last week.
The mission said the fishermen were rescued Wednesday night during a mission under the command of international police officers on land at around 7:00 pm (1400 GMT).
Earlier Friday, Lebanese forces intercepted 150 protesters near the south Beirut suburb of Baraza, who they said had been shouting anti-Israel slogans and calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Saad Hariri, Lebanese media reported.
The protesters said they were protesting against the shooting death of a protester by Lebanese troops near the Mediterranean Sea port of Sidon on Tuesday.
“The protestors were armed and several said they planned to use a large fishing boat to try to reach a beach in the Bekaa to show their force,” Lebanese army spokesman Colonel Ramin Assad told reporters after the operation.
Syria’s relationship with Lebanon has been strained since anti-government protests erupted last January, but clashes with Syrians based in Lebanon are rare, and there are also relatively few Syrian citizens living in Lebanon.
UNIFIL spokesman Gabriel Tannenbaum told reporters in Beirut on Friday the mission expected to get the migrants back.
“So that they are moved out of the area, brought back to the area where they were detained. They are currently being relocated to a location where it is safe to place them,” he said.
The exact whereabouts of the migrants remains unknown.